A federal judge ruled Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach in contempt of court Wednesday, saying he misled election officials and voters despite the court’s orders laying out notices he was supposed to send to them about voting status.
U.S. District Judge Julie A. Robinson cited Mr. Kobach’s “history of noncompliance and disrespect for the court’s decisions” in slapping him with a civil contempt citation.
Judge Robinson ordered him to pay lawyers’ fees and said he could face other sanctions in the future after the underlying case about voter registration is completed.
Mr. Kobach said he’ll appeal the ruling.
“We do not think a contempt order was justified under the circumstances,” he told The Washington Times.
The Republican, who is running for Kansas governor this year, was vice chairman of President Trump’s voter integrity commission before it was disbanded earlier this year.
He also has long been one of the conservative movement’s chief voices on immigration and voting rights, pressing for stricter controls to verify the identities of people registering to vote in order to weed out fraud.
One of the policies he oversaw was a state law asking new registrants to show proof of citizenship.
The federal “motor-voter” law allows people to register to vote at motor vehicle bureaus without proving citizenship, but Mr. Kobach said the law doesn’t apply to those who register by mail, for example, who are still bound by the state requirements.
The American Civil Liberties Union sued Mr. Kobach over the matter.
The judge sided with the ACLU and before the 2016 election ordered him to send out notices to those who had registered at motor vehicle bureaus that they didn’t need to prove citizenship. He also was ordered to send postcards reminding voters of their polling locations.
Not all localities complied quickly, drawing the contempt citation.
Judge Robinson said Mr. Kobach issued “confusing” notices and failed to monitor compliance to make sure local election officials were following through.
“Secretary Kobach likes to talk about the rule of law. Talk is cheap, and his actions speak louder than his words,” said Dale Ho, director of the ACLU’s Voting Rights Project.